Home » Governance » MDC-T Saga, Speaker Washes His Hands, Parly Can’t Meddle in Party Politics, Go to Court, Factions Told

National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda has dismissed MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s request to expel from Parliament legislators aligned to secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti, aising him to approach the courts to determine who is in charge of the opposition party.

Mr Tsvangirai’s faction wrote to Cde Mudenda through party deputy president Ms Thokozani Khupe on their intention to recall the legislators.

Mr Biti had already written to the Speaker aising him that only the secretary-general of a party could write to recall legislators from Parliament.

He said there were effectively two national councils running MDC-T, of which the one he was aligned to held sway because he was the secretary-general.

Both MDC-T factions claim to have chaired quorate national councils that suspended Mr Tsvangirai and his allies on the Biti side, and that expelled Mr Biti and 10 legislators sympathetic to him on the Tsvangirai side.

It has, however, since emerged that both factions were inflating figures of members in attendance as none had held a quorum at their purported national council meetings.

But in a statement yesterday, Cde Mudenda said the letters from both factions had no legal issues compelling him or Senate president Cde Edna Madzongwe to determine or rule on whether or not to act pursuant to the provisions of Section 129(1) (k) of the Constitution.

The section empowers political parties to recall legislators by writing to the National Assembly Speaker andor Senate president that certain MPs were not serving party interests and must be recalled.

“In any case, neither the Honourable president of the Senate nor the Speaker of the National Assembly has any authority and role to play in the internal disciplinary actions, disputes or differences within political parties, which matters may be appropriately dealt with by a competent court,” said Cde Mudenda.

Both factions claimed victory in the Speaker’s decision, but legal practitioners said it was Mr Biti who would be smiling the most.

Spokesperson for Mr Biti’s faction, Mr Jacob Mafume, said the decision vindicated the MDC-Team position.

“The secretary-general has always said issues of a disciplinary nature are to be handled by the party and if anyone is aggrieved they must go to court.

“Unfortunately, our colleagues are being aised by bush or near-lawyers. They came to a startling and unfounded conclusion that when they were suspended another party was founded, which is not the case. They are acting without thinking.”

But Mr Mwonzora said the decision allowed them to proceed to recall MPs aligned to Mr Biti.

He said Cde Mudenda did not agree with Mr Biti that he was the only one who could recall legislators.

“The Speaker has not agreed with him, so now we are going to proceed with the recall because he did not say that we have no right to recall,” he said.

“At any rate, we had not recalled anyone. The contents of our letter was that Biti was wrong in saying he is the only one who can recall MPs. The Speaker has only said there is no issue before him for recall since we had not recalled anyone.”

But Mr Mafume said Cde Mudenda had made it clear that Parliament would not be involved in internal party differences.

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku hailed Cde Mudenda’s decision.

“He has respected two cardinal principles, the first one being that it’s not easy for a Member of Parliament to lose his or her seat just like that,” he said.

“It was outright daydreaming when a leader of a political party thinks that their mere signature to the Speaker is sufficient to create a vacancy in Parliament.

“The second aspect is that when there are disputes relating to any matter, no matter how frivolous the dispute may be perceived by some people, the proper forum for the resolution of disputes is a court of law.”

Prof Madhuku said in essence, Cde Mudenda’s decision was that the two factions should finish their political battle in the political world without dragging outsiders into their disputes.

“Actually, I am very proud of the Speaker, a former student of mine, who has shown an excellent grasp of the Constitution of the country,” he said.

“Even if the matter were to go to court, no sensible court will declare any of the seats of the MPs aligned to Biti vacant. That section of the Constitution they want to use is very complicated because even if the MPs lose the case at the High Court, they can still appeal to the Supreme Court. There is no way they can exhaust all the legal processes before 2018.”

Lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein of Hussein and Ranchod Legal Practitioners said Cde Mudenda’s decision was sensible in that he referred them to the courts.

“He has refused to swallow the bait of being invited to interfere or participate in the succession dispute of a political party and from what he has said, the status quo will prevail,” he said.

“As far as he is concerned, those who made it to Parliament on July 31 2013 will remain in their positions unless and until the MDC gets its house in order or gets a court order.”

Source : The Herald